May 30, 2018 – In 2006, Jacqueline Alexander purchased a pear orchard located at 3993 Highway 35, Hood River. Her business Morale Orchards, LLC grows Asian pears in this upper Hood River Valley orchard. “I was interested in developing a value-added product,” says Alexander. Her initial plan was to produce Asian pear schnapps as way to increase revenues from culled pears that otherwise would be destroyed or sold for minimum price to juice companies because they fruit is imperfect from inclement weather, insect damage or from simply falling to the ground. Jacqueline’s twins Morgan and Alexander suggested she make candy instead. With her research, and thinking that more Americans are looking for ways to snack healthier, Jacqueline transitioned their suggestion into a business model for freeze-dried fruits.
Jacqueline worked with the Food Innovation Center (FIC) in Portland to develop her ideas and concepts. According to Dr. Qingyue Ling, FIC’s senior development engineer, this dried fruit has a 20- year shelf life, is lightweight, easy to ship and has been shown to bake well in cakes and muffins. Additionally, these fruit puffs preserve all of the nutrition of fresh fruit without any additives while creating a shelf-stable, value-added product that is perfect for snacking as well as adding to baked goods, trail mix, granola, or yogurt as an ingredient to boost nutrition. Founded by both Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the FIC is partly a laboratory for testing food preferences, but it also aims to combine food science with economic development.
In 2013, Jacqueline obtained a $92,500 loan from Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) to help build and install the prototype freeze-drying equipment at FIC. With successful testing and product production, Jacqueline has branded her fruit puffs with the Know Your Fruit brand and is nearing completion of the construction of a processing plant called The Puff Factory. The 29,500-square-foot facility, located at 3030 Lower Mill Drive in Odell will house the main processing floor, including cold storage, conveyer belts, an industrial-scale fruit dryer and other required processing equipment. An elevator will lead to a second level with office space.The company plans to have a workforce of about 30 to start with the anticipated September 2018 opening, with up to 50 once operations gear up.
For more information about Know Your Fruit and the Puff Factory can be found at www.knowyourfruit.com and on the Know Your Fruit facebook page. You can contact Know Your Fruit at 541-400-0818 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Know Your Fruit is a single-origin, freeze-dried fruit snack brand. Know Your Fruit uses only the freshest, locally-grown fruit to make its super delicious, single-origin freeze-dried fruit puffs.
The MCEDD Loan Program is available to entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and existing businesses doing business in the five county (Sherman, Hood River, Wasco, Klickitat and Skamania) Mid-Columbia Area. This loan program is part of MCEDD’s efforts to strengthen and support the region’s economy.
April 25, 2018 – In July of 2013, Nikol Clark and Randy Goetz purchased the commercial property at 1029 May Street in Hood River, OR. Known for decades as the “Klahre House,” the turn-of-the-century Craftsman building had housed The Next Door and its Youth Outreach programs. When Nikol and Randy took over, the building was ready for a new chapter.
The couple saw the opportunity to create their dream: a combination Tea House and Wellness Center. The Good Medicine Lounge was born. For the next four years, the community around Good Medicine steadily grew, and the business activity grew and changed as well. The Wellness Center flourished with a wide variety of health practitioners finding a home in the cozy treatments rooms. The Tea House became a local gathering place, and a quiet retreat in the heights.
Also in development was the Good Medicine Tea wholesale program and website store. As this side of the business began to come into its own, Nikol and Randy decided to embrace their wider sales and distribution network and devote the necessary time and resources to the success of Good Medicine Tea. They found a partner in Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD), which financed a small business loan through the Columbia Gorge Oregon Investment Board fund in early 2018.
The influx of capital has allowed Good Medicine Tea to take the necessary steps grow its wholesale and web sales programs. They have been able to support increased inventory to pursue larger customer accounts. These include exciting new partners such as Market of Choice grocery stores, which have taken on Good Medicine tea in all 11 of their Oregon locations, and Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort which brought Good Medicine Tea into all eight of their on-mountain dining outlets. With increased customer demand comes increased labor needs, and MCEDD’s funding has allowed Good Medicine Tea to retain their staff of four employees that have expanded their roles in receiving, production, order fulfillment, shipping, and sales.
Good Medicine Tea can be found at a variety of Grocers and specialty retailers throughout Hood River, White Salmon, and the Central Gorge. Their tea can also be purchased from their website at www.GoodMedicineTea.com. Choose the Local Pick-Up option and come into Good Medicine to grab your order! Call Good Medicine at (541) 436-2540 to inquire about products, or wholesale accounts for your retail or food service business.
The MCEDD Loan Program is available to entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and existing businesses doing business in the five county (Sherman, Hood River, Wasco, Klickitat and Skamania) Mid-Columbia area. This loan program is part of MCEDD’s efforts to strengthen and support the region’s economy.